Tag: Nervous System

Artistic image of silhouetted heads

Gene essential for memory extinction could lead to new PTSD treatments

September 18, 2013

A new study from a team of Whitehead and MIT researchers reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction. Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations.

Images of zebrafish brain development

Fishing for answers to autism puzzle

June 19, 2012

A team of Whitehead Institute and MIT scientists has shown that zebrafish can be a useful tool for studying the genes that contribute to such disorders.

Image of a larval fruit fly brain

Brain glia cells increase their DNA content to preserve vital blood-brain barrier

January 13, 2012

Whitehead Institute scientists report that the growing fruit fly brain instructs subperineurial glia (SPG) cells that form the blood-brain barrier to enlarge by creating multiple copies of their genomes in a process known as polyploidization.

Yeast cells indicating that Aβ disrupts normal cellular trafficking

Yeast model connects Alzheimer's disease risk and amyloid beta toxicity

October 27, 2011

In a development that sheds new light on the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a team of Whitehead Institute scientists has identified connections between genetic risk factors for the disease and the effects of a peptide toxic to nerve cells in the brains of AD patients.

Microscope image of the transitional phase of yeast prions

A different tune: cellular IPOD plays role in prion biology

April 26, 2010

According to Whitehead Institute researchers, cells take advantage of a biologically ancient compartment to sequester prions, an action that can initially prevent the prions’ phenotypic expression. While in this compartment, less stably heritable prion plaques also mature to a more transmissible state.

Yeast overproducing alpha-synuclein

Small molecules found to protect cells in multiple models of Parkinson’s disease

December 28, 2009

Several structurally similar small molecules appear capable of protecting cells from alpha-synuclein toxicity, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease, according to Whitehead Institute researchers.

Gene mutation alone causes transmissible prion disease

August 26, 2009

Whitehead Institute researchers have shown definitively that mutations associated with prion diseases are sufficient to cause a transmissible neurodegenerative disease. Deciphering the origins of prion diseases could help farmers and policy-makers determine how best to control a prion disease outbreak in livestock and to prevent prion transmission to humans.

Breakthrough method produces Parkinson’s disease patient-specific stem cells free of harmful reprogramming genes

March 5, 2009

Deploying a method that removes potentially cancer-causing genes, Whitehead Institute researchers have “reprogrammed” human skin cells from Parkinson’s disease patients into an embryonic-stem-cell-like state. Whitehead scientists then used these so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to create dopamine-producing neurons, the cell type that degenerates in Parkinson’s disease patients.

Schematic of a general signalling pathway

Calculating gene and protein connections in a Parkinson’s model

February 22, 2009

Researchers have created an algorithm that meshes existing data to produce a clearer step-by-step flow chart of how cells respond to stimuli. Using this new method, Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have analyzed alpha-synuclein toxicity to identify genes and pathways that can affect cell survival. Misfolded copies of the alpha-synuclein protein in brain cells are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

Slides of mouse brain samples

Study suggests possible treatment for neurological disorder Rett syndrome

February 9, 2009

Injecting the small protein insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) into the bloodstream reduces Rett syndrome symptoms in mice, including lethargy, breathing and heart rhythm irregularities, reduced brain size, and stalled nerve cell development. Rett syndrome is an inherited neurological disease that affects one out of 10,000 girls born.

Study reveals connection between genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson’s disease

February 1, 2009

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have found that a single gene, known as PARK9, protects cells from manganese toxicity and rescues neurons from over-expression of the protein alpha-synuclein. Misfolded alpha-synuclein is the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

New clue emerges for cellular damage in Huntington’s disease

November 17, 2008

Huntington’s disease is caused by misfolded and clumped proteins that interfere with the cell’s protein quality control, which may lead to cellular toxicity and eventually cell death.

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